What can PR managers learn from Petya?

Very often lately, we hear about cyber attacks. News about such incidents is widely publicized. That’s hardly remarkable, given that sensitive information has landed on the street, personal information is stolen, a company is completely shut down and small or larger sums are required in exchange for data release. In short, the economic and social impact is high.

Recently, Petya dominated the news. Among others, the Maersk terminal in the Port of Rotterdam was hit, as well as TNT Post. The first days after the outbreak, there were more than six thousand articles and posts about this virus, as evidenced by the analysis of our online and offline media monitoring tools.

Media covered, among other things, the cause, the victims, and the associated economic damage, the modest amount of money the hackers demanded and the peculiarities of the attack. Also noticeable was the fact that many security experts and security companies jumped on the news. For example, we saw comments from spokespersons from Kaspersky, Fox-IT, DearBytes, ESET and Comae. Kaspersky dominated the news with around 180 articles. The national newspaper De Telegraaf had a different approach and talked to internet lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm at Bureau Brandeis. He pointed out these attacks are a trend and urged companies to take measures as quickly as possible to improve their digital security. As of May, next year, the new General Data Protection Regulation will take effect.

A survey of the Dutch news and tech news Progress Communications recently conducted, shows that newsjacking is very popular. That also applied to the Petya attack. Many journalists said that after the attack they very quickly received security editorial contributions from security providers. These companies offered a blog, a press release, or an offer for an interview with an expert. Sometimes these contributions were published. But most journalists indicated that they have a wide range of contacts themselves and will talk to them for comment. Some sought collaboration with other media to publish as quickly and fully as possible.

What do these results mean for PR managers?
What these outcomes show is that you generally have to offer an in-depth response with newsjacking. Journalists are looking for additional news coverage. They also want to report what is happening behind the news. So, keep that in mind and make sure you offer added value.

Also, make sure you provide a technical and well-substantiated advice or comment. It’s very painful if you obviously want a share, without the right expertise. In that case it’s better to keep quiet, according to the media surveyed. Of course, it’s not a good idea to promote yourself in your comments. This may be obvious, but make sure your message is not attributed to the solution or service your company offers. A journalist can spot this from a mile away. With an objective and practical comment, you create awareness and media will acknowledge you as a sender.

Keep it clear
In addition, it is important to offer a clear and concise message that needs little work to put in the paper or on a website. Also, it is useful to keep in mind to focus on the impact of an attack for the general reader. In general, it may be less interesting for the general public what companies should do or have done wrong.

Speed is also crucial. The media want to publish news and commentary as soon as possible. That’s one of the reasons why they often turn to their regular database with people they know and trust.
Do you need help with your media approach? Let us help you. Our day begins with the scanning of the newspapers, the main news sites, and other press outlets. In addition, we use a variety of on and offline monitoring tools. Thus, we know exactly what it is going on and how we can respond.

Inger, Corinna and Lianne

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